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Hextall on Hockey: the first all-female NHL play-by-play lineup

Cassie Campbell-Pascal and Leah Hextall during the broadcast of a CWHL game between the Toronto Furies and Calgary Inferno in Toronto.
Cassie Campbell-Pascal and Leah Hextall during the broadcast of a CWHL game between the Toronto Furies and Calgary Inferno in Toronto. Supplied photo

I’ll be calling Sunday’s Vegas-Calgary game for Sportsnet, making history as part of the first all-female lineup — including the broadcast team and the production crew — to present an NHL game.

I’m proud to join these talented women who have all earned the right to be here. Each of us has persevered in a world where we weren’t always welcomed.

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I’ve been fortunate to benefit from some fantastic mentors, including NBC’s Doc Emrick and the ultimate trailblazer, Cassie Campbell-Pascall. But their guidance, as incredible as it has been, didn’t save me from having to put in the work.

The path here hasn’t been glamorous. I started by calling Manitoba Moose games in a booth by myself, talking to a nonexistent audience.
It’s all worth it as I make my NHL debut. And there’s no one that would enjoy this moment more than my dad, Randy Hextall. He taught me the game through countless diagrams at the kitchen table, teaching me the rules and breaking down systems.I could always count on a text from my dad the day prior to a game to wish me luck. And then again the day after the call to hear the details. He never wanted to bother me on a game day.Unfortunately, I lost my first hockey mentor and my biggest fan last July. My dad’s passing was sudden, and coming to terms with it has made this the most difficult year of my life.When I step into the booth Sunday, I’ll be wearing my grandfather Bryan Hextall’s Hockey Hall of Fame ring. He left it to my dad and my dad left it to me. That ring connects three generations of Hextalls, and it helps me feel like my dad is with me.As the anthems wind down, I’ll close my eyes and take a deep breath. Then with my dad on my left and Cassie on my right, we’ll settle in to make some history.
Offside is a book about the challenges faced by women in the sport of hockey
Offside is a book about the challenges faced by women in the sport of hockey